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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Uehara

Weekly News Blast | June 11-18

North Korean hacker group Lazarus stole millions from an Estonia-based cryptocurrency firm as part of a long string of cyberattacks on foreign companies (Florian Olivo, Unsplash).

North Korean Hacker Group Steals Millions in Cryptocurrency

According to multiple crypto-tracking experts, a group of North Korean hackers known as “Lazarus” were likely behind the theft of at least $35 million from Atomic Wallet, an Estonia-based cryptocurrency company. The company stated that “less than one percent” of monthly users appeared to be affected by the hack, but how much money was stolen has not been specified.

According to reports from the United Nations and private firms, North Korean hackers have stolen billions of dollars from banks and cryptocurrency institutions over the past several years. London-based crypto-tracking firm Elliptic commented that the Atomic Wallet hackers used similar techniques and tools as these other North Korean cyberattacks. “The pattern was similar to what we saw with the laundering of Harmony funds back in January,” crypto sleuth ZachXBT said, referring to the laundering of $100 million stolen from a California-based firm.

The Estonia National Criminal Police has been investigating the theft since last week, according to spokesperson Kaarel Kallas. However, she noted the investigation was still in its early stages, “and, at the moment, [they] cannot comment on the origins of the attacks.” The FBI, which has investigated past Lazarus-linked hacks, has declined comment. Atomic Wallet has not commented either. However, the latter has assured users that “Atomic is Fully Protected.”

U.S. officials worry that the money will be used to fund North Korean nuclear and ballistic weapons programs. Hence, preventing North Korean hacking and money laundering has become a priority for the Biden administration. Although the profit margins have decreased, cryptocurrency theft is still “wildly profitable,” said Carlsen, a worker at the fraud-investigation firm FRM Labs, “so they have no reason to stop.” According to a White House official, about half of North Korea’s missile program has been funded by cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft.

Germany Reveals First National Security Threat Amongst International Threats

On Wednesday, Germany revealed its first comprehensive national security strategy. The war in Ukraine has made Germany more aware of its vulnerability to new militaristic, economic, geopolitical, and climate change threats—the report specifically addresses Russia as the biggest threat to European security—which is why the government pushed this historic report through. “Germany’s security environment is undergoing profound change, and we are living through a watershed era, a Zeitenwende,” or turning point, the paper says.

The new strategy focuses on three main parts of German security. The first part is a robust defense, a new strategic culture, and high military spending. Germany has already committed to reaching the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product from next year on defense. The second part is resilience, namely Germany’s ability to protect its values, reduce economic dependencies, prevent cyberattacks, and defend the United Nations Charter. The final part is to take action in climate change, energy, and food crises.

Many applaud Germany’s efforts, but some question whether what has been stated in the document can actually be carried out, as there is a lack of financial commitment to the cause. The efforts to spend two percent on defense alone will require new financing. Opposition leader Friedrich Merz said the new security strategy was “anemic in terms of substance, strategically irrelevant, without operational consequences” and had been drawn up without consultation with Germany’s allies. “It has no value, no substance, no significance… It is a big disappointment,” he said.

There was much infighting in the drafting process, including threats to disband the German national security council altogether. Still, what Germany has done is significant. In the future, Germany seeks to publish a separate paper schedule to talk about China, but they are focused on Russia for now.

Supreme Court Upholds the Indian Child Welfare Act

On Thursday, the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to uphold the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which protects Native American children from being removed from their tribal communities during fostering or adoption processes. Instead, the child is to be placed with their extended families and tribal communities to ensure they have a continued connection to their culture.

Conservative organizations who brought the case argued the system is racially discriminatory against non-Native families and is thus unconstitutional. However, according to Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle, these attacks against the ICWA are simply part of the broader conservative agenda to destabilize federal Indian law. She applauded the Supreme Court’s decision and called it “really encouraging,” noting that it is “good not just for Native nations and families, but for the rule of law.”

According to Social Current President and CEO Jody Levison-Johnson, “By prioritizing the placement of children within their families, communities, or Tribal Nations, we also prioritize stability and the opportunity to maintain continuity in schools, health care, and community participation. Today’s Supreme Court decision affirms this and ensures that we carry forward the practices and policies that we know create better outcomes for children.”


Sources & Further Reading

North Korean Hacker Group Steals Millions in Cryptocurrency

Germany’s Reveals First National Security Threat Amongst International Threats

Supreme Court Upholds the Indian Child Welfare Act


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